Cover of Chinese Human Smuggling Organizations by Sheldon X. Zhang
Chinese Human Smuggling Organizations
Families, Social Networks, and Cultural Imperatives
Sheldon X. Zhang


304 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804757416


Excerpts and More

Based on years of fieldwork and interviews with 129 human smugglers as well as scores of government and law enforcement officials, this book presents a rare look into the secretive world of the "snakeheads" (human smugglers) whose ingenious endeavors have transported hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants into the United States and other Western countries.

The book is rich with vivid accounts of how groups of opportunistic entrepreneurs form loosely connected social circles to accomplish seemingly complex transnational negotiations. Zhang's findings and analyses challenge many widespread misconceptions about these smugglers in particular and Chinese organized crime in general. Bound together by little more than the pursuit of profit, these otherwise ordinary men have demonstrated remarkable flexibility in adapting to market and socio-legal constraints.

The author's concept of the "dyadic cartwheel network" integrates major theoretical constructs to explain how and why freelance operators have come to dominate the human smuggling enterprise instead of traditional crime syndicate.

About the author

Sheldon X. Zhang is Professor and Chair of Sociology at San Diego State University. He is currently the principal investigator for two research grants funded by the California Department of Corrections and co-principal investigator on a large grant funded by the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice.

"It is a path-breaking book . . . [T]his book is an important addition to a rising list of recent books to understand the international migration from China's Fujian province. It provides extremely valuable empirical knowledge about smuggling operation. Its innovative theoretical model proves to be very useful in explaining Chinese human smuggling and also holds potential for examining human smuggling in other settings as well."

—Zai Lang, China Review International

"Zhang offers some very stark conclusions and recommendations . . . [An] important and timely book."

—James O. Finckernauer, American Journal of Sociology

"Chinese Human Smuggling Organizations is an important book that offers essential information for policy makers, law enforcement, and academics interested in this large and profitable illicit market."

—University of Toronto, Margaret Beare

"This highly informative and data-rich book sheds new light on a topical and popular criminological subject. It is highly recommended to all those who are interested in transnational crime studies."

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